How to Wean Off Opiates Safely

There is and has been a national crisis of opioid abuse in our country. Opioids are prescribed painkillers, synthetic opioids, and illegal drugs such as Codeine, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Methadone, Morphine, and Oxycodone. Some of these are prescribed daily for pain, acute and/or chronic. Many people who are prescribed painkillers abuse them. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH):

  • Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
  • Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder.
  • An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
  • About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
  • Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.’

How to Wean Off Opiates Safely

Can You Get Addicted from Short-Term Opiate Use?

All opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused and taken in a different way or in a larger quantity than prescribed, or taken without a doctor’s prescription. Regular use, even as prescribed by a doctor, can lead to dependence and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to addiction, overdose incidents, and deaths.

Signs of Someone Abusing Opiates

You can become dependent on opioids and if you don’t know the warning signs, becoming dependent can lead to an addiction that may end up with an overdose. There is no difference in the fact that they both cause harm to you and, indirectly, your loved ones. If you or a loved one may be addicted to opioids, look our for some of these warning signs of an opioid use disorder/addiction:

  • Taking more than directed dose
  • Not being able to stop
  • Thinking about taking the pain medication
  • Continuing to take the medication even though it has caused troubling consequences
  • Hobbies that brought joy are no longer a part of your daily activities
  • Taking opioids while driving or during other dangerous situations
  • Growing a tolerance where the normal dose does not provide an effect, therefore, having to take more.

If you find yourself having any of these signs it can be alarming and freighting especially if you’ve never had this happen before. When we get prescribed painkillers there are usually only so many refills before the prescription is out. At this point the user, if dependent, finds ways of getting more. Sometimes, because it is cheaper than the prescription painkiller, resorts to heroin or fentanyl.

Going Cold Turkey from Opiate Addiction

Quitting opioids suddenly, or going cold turkey, even after as little as 2-10 days of continuous use 7, will produce withdrawal symptoms that may cause mental and emotional distress, increased pain, increased risk for suicide, and unmanageable withdrawal symptoms that may lead to relapse.8, 9

If you notice you are becoming dependent on opioids, you’ll want to see if you can start weaning yourself off. This involves providing gradually decreasing doses of an opioid to reduce withdrawal symptoms and increase a person’s safety through the detox process.

Coming Off Opiates On Your Own

Weaning off opioids can be done in a couple of different ways with inpatient and outpatient treatment, but coming off opiates on your own is not recommended, dangerous, and painful.

Weaning off opioids can be difficult to do without medical assistance. When medical professional works with a patient to wean them off prescription opioids, an individualized schedule should be created to manage withdrawal symptoms following a complete physical assessment, lab tests, and interview. How quickly the medication is weaned off of depends on several factors, including how long you have been taking opioids, the dose you have been taking, and which opioid and other medications or substances you have been using.

Opiate Addiction Help at Allure Detox

At Allure Detox, we can help you wean off opioids safely with our Medical Assisted Treatments. Our programs use Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) to detox patients from opiates. And if need be, we administer MAT to help patients maintain long-term recovery. Sometimes, additional help is required, but these prescription drugs give every addict a chance for permanent recovery. Please call us today if your family is suffering from opiate addiction.